Introduction: Dog Settle Mat
TL: DR; If you only came for the cute dog, the last step has a video of me introducing the finished blanket to my black lab.
This project is a fun one and can be a stash buster for you fabric hoarders.
A settle mat is basically a visual indicator for your dog, telling them that this is where they should stay. It's different from a down-stay, because in a down-stay you don't want them to move. With a settle mat, they can get up, stretch, drink, roll over, etc as long as they stay inside the border of the mat. I use one frequently because there are times I need to work independently while making sure that my dog isn't wandering around, and a crate isn't available.
The size for this can vary according to your needs. This particular mat is made to about 34'' square for two reasons: one, it uses up roughly one yard of backing material in a self-binding design, and two, it's the same size as our existing mat so I know it works for my dog. I already have a settle mat, but want to add a second to have one at home and one at work or to leave in the car, etc. Plus color variations, and I love all shades of purple!
Please see the Design Notes/Footnotes step for more information about ... well, lots of things!
THINGS USED IN CONSTRUCTION OF THIS BLANKET (not everything is pictured):
1.25 yards flannel
various yardage of fabrics in chosen colors (at least 1/2 yard of each)
batting (this one was Pellon "regular" loft batting)
Elmer's Disappearing School Glue Stick
generic white tape
whiteboard, whiteboard marker
fabric cutter (I used a 45 "stick" rotary cutter. Bargain basement but it works)
scissors (I had both pinking shears and regular fabric scissors)
something to mark fabric with -- washable/invisible marker, chalk, etc. Make sure it's not permanent!
thread -- you can use coordinating/contrasting thread, or "invisible" thread.
fasteners (in my case, curved safety pins, quilting pins, and Wonder Clips)
sewing machine - if you have a quilting machine, great! A regular sewing machine will still do a decent job (mine is a Simplicity Denim Star)
-all purpose presser foot (the type that can let you do satin/applique stitches); it's technically doable with just that one, but the following two feet will help a lot.
- open toe foot and/or embroidery foot (your sewing machine manual will probably tell you which one is better)
-1/4'' seam foot (sometimes called a quilter's or patchwork foot) with a guide, even better. There's a lot of 1/4'' seams in this thing, it'll save you some time and trouble. Make sure it's properly calibrated! Some of these feet err to 3/8 inch or something like that. Check first and save yourself some heartache.
- needles - a general purpose 70/11 will probably be fine (see footnotes)
Dog treats - whatever your dog likes. If they don't like treats, use a favorite toy.
treat pouch/fanny pack/roomy pocket - to put your treats or toy in ;)
clicker - if you use one; some dogs respond well to it, some don't.
Step 1: Fabric Prep
Round up all your fabric.
You'll need a minimum of one yard for the backing - I chose flannel because it's a nice contrast to the cotton I plan to use for the top, and I had a yard of it in the right colors.
-- NOTE on this: I ended up having to go back and buy a longer piece, because as I went to pin the final quilt top I found it wasn't wide enough. You can definitely build your quilt with a TOO BIG backing, but TOO SMALL can run you into serious trouble.
You can use cotton for the entire thing including the back, or flannel for the top as well as back, or mix and match. You want sturdy fabrics that can hold up to washing and whatnot. For the top, I used various cottons; some are quilting weight and some are a bit lighter/thinner. The yardage varies from 1/4 yard and up.
You do want to measure AFTER washing, since fabrics do shrink and warp in the washing process and it's better to have extra than too little. Sometimes people like the look of quilts that shrink after being assembled, so you can skip the prewash if that's the look you want.
Make sure all of your fabric is washed and ironed out before you begin laying out. The ironing is to make sure the wrinkles are out so you can get accurate measurements for cuts.
The photo I included on this step shows just some of the fabrics I used. I used more than that. You can use less. (Footnotes!!)
Step 2: Design Your Top
If you want to, you could simply use another yard of fabric and pop it on top for a two-pattern reversible mat and be done. I, of course, had free time and hate myself so I went for a complicated quilt top. These are some of the preliminary designs that I came up with.
In the end, the last one was the design I went with.
I did a lot of laying out fabric against each other to play with colors and patterns until I settled on something I liked. I put a piece of tape on each fabric, and used my whiteboard marker to assign each one a letter. Then I made a diagram (like the picture) and labeled each section with the corresponding fabric. I later did something similar with the thread -- more info on all this in Footnotes.
Step 3: Sizing, Seams, and Language
For an approximate finished size of 36'', I decided to go with 10'' squares and 1'' sashes for dividers. What this means for this quilt is a FINISHED square of 10.5'' x 10.5'' (including 1/4 seam allowances) and 1.5'' sash pieces (with 1/4'' seam allowance included). Once the entire top is pieced together, it should be about 34.5'' square. The extra width will come from the backing fabric itself when it's bound up.
You can use a general purpose presser foot for your seams -- the kind that has the horizontal sort of notch -- most machines come with one, BUT if you have a 1/4'' quilting foot it makes all these seams so much easier. Swap to that now if you have it. ALL of your seams throughout this thing will be 1/4'' seams; the only change from this will be during the appliquing and quilting processes.
Note- I actually have two 1/4'' quilting foots. One with a guide and one without. I tested and discovered (first photo) that the one with a guide actually ended up being a bit over 1/4'' which doesn't sound like much, but can really mess with your overall size since it multiplies exponentially so suddenly your quilted top is bigger than you planned and things don't match right, so I tried the other one and found I got a more consistent 1/4'' seam with that one. Test your seams before you go blazing through all these seams!
An abbreviation you will see often is "RST" and just means right-sides-together. Whatever you want to be facing up when complete is what should be touching each other, as your seam will be on the "wrong" sides and hidden when everything's put together.
Pressing: Two things you want to keep in mind - when you are pressing seams, don't open them as in the second photo, which is what most people do when making things. You COULD, but it will end up as extra bulk when you're sewing together all these blocks. If you press them to the side instead (third photo) they'll lay better and be a bit less bulky. You want to work seams in opposite directions, again for bulkiness. (There will be photos of that later on) It will make more sense when you get to those parts.
Step 4: Pawprint Block
(1) 12'' x 12'' square of your background color
You want to center the design in the middle of the block, because you're going to trim off the excess to match your other blocks. (there's a note about this on the Intermission step.)
Trace your pawprint shapes onto your contrast fabric and cut out. Lay the cut pieces onto your stabilizer, trace a bit bigger, and cut those out. (Third photo) Grab your disappearing glue stick, and dab a little bit of glue onto the wrong side of your paw pads. You can put it in the middle, or on the edges - when dry, it shouldn't interfere with your needle, but if you're worried about that, glue the middles. (fourth photo) Press down and leave until dry. Then put the stabilizer bits behind and pin them. I generally just carefully hold it up to the light so I can see through all the layers and pin from the front.
Fifth photo has both pawprints and the heart block stabilized and pinned.
sixth photo - I used satin-stitch around the paw pads. Switch to your embroidery/open toe foot for this.
Repeat the entire process so you have 2 finished squares.
Turn them over and rip out the stabilizer from the center of your paw pads. You can use a seam ripper to carefully make a slit and reach to peel out. You can leave it in, but doing that does make it a bit stiffer to the touch. If that's what you want, it should be fine to wash. (you can see a photo of what it looks like on the heart page)
Applique stitches in general do have a bit of a tendency to show any crooked lines so do try to make your curves nice... or just be really good at it, which I am not.
Step 5: Heart Block
The heart block is probably the easiest, most straightforward one.
Cut a 12 x 12'' square of your background fabric. (The white snowflake in this case)
Cut out your heart shape out of your contrast fabric and then use that to cut stabilizer a bit bigger than your heart shape. (first picture) Some people just cut a square, some (like me) cut to the shape.
Use your glue to carefully run around the edge of your heart, and then pop it down onto the block where you want it. Like with the pawprints, you want to center it. Stick it down, let it dry a bit. Then you can hold it up to the light and place your stabilizer behind the block and pin. (third, fourth picture)
Go ahead and stitch around the edge to hold it down with whatever stitch you like (open toe/embroidery foot); follow the instructions for it according to your machine. This stitch is called a blanket stitch. (fifth picture)
You should now have a completed 12x12'' block with a heart in the middle. If it's a bit smaller that's fine, you'll square up in a bit. Go ahead and turn it over and rip out the stabilizer. If you leave it in (you can, if it's safe to wash) it'll be a bit stiffer to the touch. (sixth photo)
Step 6: Five Bars
This one is pretty simple. It's made up of five strips of 10.5'' x 2.5'' fabric. (note: you might want to cut a little bit LONGER (to 11'') and square up later.
Swap back to your 1/4'' foot if you have it, or the general purpose if you don't.
Take your first two strips, lay them RST with right edges aligned, and sew together. Keep in mind your 1/4'' seam allowance! (first picture) Press open. Lay a third strip on top of the 2nd, RST and bottom edges aligned. (second picture) Press open. Make sure these seams are pressed opposite each other (third photo) Keep going until you have all 5 together as a 10.5'' block.
Of course, with five strips you can mix and match in all kinds of ways.
Examples -- (one dark strip, one light strip, 3 patterned fabrics like I did here); 5 patterned fabrics, and so on.
Repeat each block three more times so you have four finished blocks. When you stitch them into the larger quilt top you can run them all vertically, all horizontally, or do a sort of larger crosshatch like my final design called for. The visual impact varies so you can play with that too.
Step 7: Sarah's Choice, Cut and Prep
There are two ways to build this block. Some versions use a combination of right triangle blocks and "flying geese" - This version uses quick piecing for right triangle blocks throughout to make the assembly a bit simpler.
#1 - (8) 3.5'' x 3.5''
#2 - (4) 3.5" x 3.5 "
#3 - (4) 3.5 " x 3.5 "
Set aside four of your background fabric (1) for the corners.
Take one square of #1 and lay a #2 piece on it, RST. Draw a diagonal line, corner to corner. (first photo)Then measure from that line, drawing 1/4'' on either side. (there should be three lines)
Repeat this so you have two blocks of #1 and #2 triangles.
Repeat this twice with the #3 fabric, so you have two blocks of #1 and #3 triangles.
Take a square of #2 and #3 fabric and place them RST.
Second photo shows you all the blocks put together just so you know what RST looks like. They all have been marked for sewing.
Now go ahead and sew all your squares - on both sides of the center line. DO NOT SEW THE CENTER LINE. (see third, fourth photo)
Fifth photo - You can do a sort of chain piecing by sewing down one line on one set of squares, then letting out a bit of thread and sewing the same line on the next square. Then break the thread and do it again on the other side. You can then cut them apart.
Take a square (double-sewn) and cut on the original diagonal line (the one you didn't sew on). Then go ahead and open all your triangles up into squares and press their seams. (You'll have little "ears" on the corners, this is fine.
Rearrange them to match the diagram. (sixth photo) I added painter's tape with numbers - to help me, and you, keep track as we go from here.
7th photo - this is where you make sure your squares are... well, square. You can see by this photo that I needed to trim down. Be careful about this to preserve the angle of your diagonals. This does mean sometimes you have to turn your ruler so you're taking more off one side than the other, but as long as the final pieces (8th photo) are 3'' square with the diagonals preserved, you're fine.
You should now have 16 squares of 3'' x 3'' fabric.
Step 8: Sarah's Choice, Assembly
Sew each row separately. See diagram 1 for cut order.
Square 2 goes on square 1, RST aligned on the right edges. (2nd photo) Sew together, open and press.
Square 3 goes on top of square 2, RST and aligned on the right edge. (3rd photo) Sew, open, press.
Square 4 on top of square 3, RST and aligned on the right. Sew, open, press.
Same process, starting with square 6 on top of square 5, continuing until square 8.
Press all your seams in the opposite direction from row A. In this case, I pressed Row A to the right, so press all of row B to the left. (fourth photo)
Row C: Same process, starting with 10 on top of 9, continuing until square 12.
Reverse your press order -- in this case, to the right.
Row D: Same process, starting with square 14 on top of square 13 until square 16.
Again, reverse press order, in this case to the left.
Lay row B on top of row A, RST and aligned on the bottom edge. (Make sure they're oriented properly - so that they will look right when opened up.) This is where the reversed seams come into play. (fifth photo) Once your strips are RST, pick them up together and hold a pair of seams in your fingers. (sixth photo) Kind of butt them up against each other and rub back and forth a bit - they kind of settle against each other. You can feel it. Pin/ secure. Check each pair of seams. If you didn't press things correctly, you can see where having two seams stacked on top of each other makes a thick stack, and it'll get worse when you get to the quilting stage. If you messed up, you can go back and repress a row of seams.
Sew together, open and press. (7th photo)
Lay row C on top of row B, RST and aligned on the bottom edge, seams butted up. Sew together, open and press.
You should now have a 10.5'' x 10.5'' finished square. (8th, 9th photos)
Now do it all again! You need two finished blocks.
** DESIGN NOTE If you want to have all 8 "rays" of the star to be a different fabric, you can do that! Just make sure you have (8) 3.5'' x 3.5'' of your background fabric and (1) 3.5'' x 3.5'' of your individual rays.
Or one set of same color rays: (8) 3.5'' x 3.5 '' of background, (4) 3.5'' x 3.5'', and (1) 3.5'' x 3.5'' of your contrasting fabrics, etc.
Step 9: Sashes
There are a few different ways to set up the sashes. It mostly comes down to aesthetics. The first option (first photo) has a bit less sewing to do (12 seams vs 16 for option B, second photo)
I went with Option A for my blanket.
Notes: I have purposefully made the sashes longer than you strictly need because I ran into a couple of instances in which the sashes came up short and I had to make "repairs" - as always, it is far easier to cut off excess than to add in. If in doubt, glance at the next step and then come back to this one to cut your sashes; repeat next step and go on from there.
Option A cut list
2x long outer bars - 38'' x 1.5''
4x horizontal bars, 34'' x 1.5''
6x vertical bars, 12'' x 1.5''
Option B cut list
4x 38'' x 1.5''
12x 12'' x 1.5''
Step 10: Intermission - Measure, Trim, and Thread
Lay out all your blocks. Take a moment here to measure to see where you're at size wise. Lay your seams, measure (and subtract all seam allowances) to make sure you're in the right ballpark.
After I began the seaming of the rows in my quilt I realized something had gone wrong. (second photo) I'm still not entirely certain what caused it -- which is why I modified the suggestions/measurements for those three blocks. The middle row was not wide enough to match the top and bottom rows even after careful pressing.
I had to take the entire row apart and add a narrow border around all three of the middle row blocks and then re-sew it together with the sashes to make the points line up better.
If you were smarter than me and followed the instructions so that your middle row block background fabric was purposefully cut larger it will be much easier for you to line up your sashes and points.
Take all your blocks and carefully measure to a squared size -- we were aiming for 10.5'' but if you find that some of them are smaller than that, then make sure to trim all the subsequent blocks to that smaller size (for instance, 10" - this will make your quilt smaller of course).
Regarding thread -- if you look at the last picture, I took time out here to color-coordinate my threads. You don't need to do this. In fact, if you are a NEW quilter, I recommend you don't. More info about this in Footnotes.
Step 11: Assembling Quilt Top
Regardless of which option you choose, it works in much the same process as the "five bars" assembly. My phone ate some pictures so I badly drew it on a whiteboard... it's a bit intuitive once you get started.
OPTION A ASSEMBLY:
Start with Block 1. Lay it face-up. Add a short sash piece (12'') on the right edge, RST, and sew. Press open. (first photo)
Lay Block 2 on top of the (open) sash, RST, and sew. Press open.
Add another short sash piece on the right edge, RST and right edges aligned. Sew, press, and open.
Add Block 3 on top of the 2nd sash piece, RST, sew and press open. This is Row A. (second photo)
The direction of the seams doesn't matter TOO much since you're sewing it to a sash after this, but it doesn't hurt to alternate directions as you have been.
Take it back to your cutting table and make sure you're squared up (third photo) because it does affect all your seams! Your vertical bars shouldn't be too short - they should be too LONG, and the squaring up step will trim that off.
Same process, starting with Block 4. Don't forget to take it to the table and square off again.
Same process, starting with Block 7. Square off.
Lay Row A face up. Lay long horizontal sash (34") facedown onto the bottom edge of the entire row, RST and bottom edges aligned. Sew, press open. (fourth photo)
Lay row B face down (RST) on the freshly sewn long sash piece, making sure it's oriented properly and bottom edges aligned. Take a little bit of time here to try and eyeball it, make sure the points of the vertical sashes on Row B are aligned as closely as possible with the points of vertical sashes on Row A. (it looks nicer if you have a visual continuance, even through the width of the horizontal sash.) Sew, press open.
Lay the second long sash piece onto row B, RST and bottom edges aligned. Sew, press open.
Lay Row C on top of the sash piece oriented properly, RST and bottom edges aligned. As you did for Row B, try to align the points of the vertical sashes. Sew, press open.
Trim your horizontal sash ends so that you can add the last two vertical sashes.
Take your last horizontal sash (34'') and lay it RST on the bottom edge of Row C, bottom edges aligned. Sew, press open.
Now take one of the longest sash pieces (38") and lay it facedown on your completed row block - LEFT edges oriented, RST. Sew and press open. Take the last long sash piece and lay it RST on the RIGHT edge of your row block, right edges aligned. Sew and press open.
Press out your entire quilt top!
OPTION B ASSEMBLY - in columns instead of rows, similar idea. (See Whiteboard Drawing, last one)
Lay block 1 RST on top of a horizontal sash piece, aligned to the bottom edge. Sew. Press and open. Lay horizontal sash piece on top of block 1, RST, bottom edge aligned. Sew, press and open.
Lay block 4 on top of 2nd sash piece, RST. Sew. Press and open. Lay another horizontal sash on top of Block 4, RST. Sew, Press and open. Lay block 7 on sash piece, RST. Sew. Press and open. Lay sash piece on top of block 7, RST. sew. Press and open.
Repeat with the next column - sash, block 2, sash, block 5, sash, block 8, sash. Repeat with final column - sash, block 3, sash, block 6, sash, block 9, sash.
Lay vertical sash piece RST on top of first column (1, 4, 7) aligned to the left edge. Sew. Press and open. Lay vertical sash piece RST on first column (1, 4, 7) aligned to right edge. Sew. Press and open.
Lay column two (2, 5, 8) RST on 2nd sash piece, aligned to right edge. Sew. Press and open.
Lay vertical sash piece RST on 2nd column (2, 5, 8) aligned to right edge. Sew. Press and open.
Lay column 3 (3, 6, 9) RST on third sash piece, aligned to right edge. Sew. Press and open. Lay vertical sash piece RST on 3rd column (3, 6, 9) aligned to right edge. Sew. Press and open.
Step 12: Sandwich Time
Lay your backing fabric wrong-side up and lay down your batting, then the quilt top onto it, RIGHT SIDE UP. (first photo)
I trimmed a bit of the flannel around the edges to reduce some of the bulk as it went into the machine, particularly on the side where I had extra fabric. I didn't trim much on the selvage edges. Make sure you leave as much as you can - 3+ inches, even though the quilting process will sort of push things out. You want to have enough for the edge binding.
NOTE -- if you used fusible batting, do a rough square up and trim of the backing, then iron the whole sandwich; then trim the batting to the edges of the quilt top. Be sure not to cut the backing fabric! If you are not using fusible batting, go straight to pinning.
This new sandwich should look exactly the way you want the finished product to be - right side of the quilt facing up; if turned over your flannel's good side should be facing up. Wrong sides to wrong sides, pretty much, with batting in between.
When pinning, I used quilters' curved safety pins. Start in the center, and build outward in a grid sort of shape. (second photo) Your pins shouldn't be more than 3 or 4 inches apart from each other. This step helps keep all the layers together and minimize shifting as you quilt.
last photo is all pinned up
Step 13: Batting Trim
Cut your batting to the same size as your quilt top, sashes and allowances included! A little bit sticking out is okay but any extra batting that extends over the edges will get rolled up in the edge binding and may make it bumpy/bulky. Make sure you don't accidentally cut the backing too!! Be really careful with this.
Step 14: Quilt That Sucker
If you've got a fancy quilting machine put it to use! I just have a boring plain, old, cheap machine. It still generally works for this.
Just like with the pinning process, you want to start in the middle and work outward. The reason for this is that the quilting process will flatten your fabrics outward - so you want it to slowly flatten from the middle out to the center, hopefully as evenly as possible.
The purpose of quilting is to secure the layers of your blanket sandwich together so they don't shift and move around during everyday use.
There's all kinds of different ways people quilt tops. I've included some close-up photos of some of the motifs I did - you can go super simple, or super fancy. (See design notes/footnotes for more on this)
You don't necessarily need to quilt the centers of appliqued pieces like the heart; sometimes it helps make them pop. Anything you don't quilt will be more raised than things you DID quilt.
If you didn't go around the edges of your appliques during the assembly of the block, you definitely should do this during the quilting part just to make sure they stay in place even through washings, even if you used fusible web instead of glue. Use a satin/applique stitch and satin foot for that and swap back to the embroidery/quilting foot. The reason you were supposed to do it before this step is because doing satin stitch/blanket stitch through many layers can kinda suck, and it shows on the backside of the entire blanket rathe than being hidden inside the sandwich.
Don't quilt into the extra flannel around the edges!
Step 15: Building the Binding Edge
Lay out your quilted sandwich. Trim off your batting to the edges of your quilt top if it squished out more during the quilting process. Check your backing measurement one more time. Sometimes the quilting process can pull the fabric askew. Square up all around or it may make a bulky, wonky edge as you go to bind it up.
Grab the edge of your binding (the back - in this case, the flannel) and turn it so its edge meets the edge of the quilt top (about 1''). Iron/press it down to make a crease/fold. (first photo)
Note - some people pin it; I like to iron it because it makes a nice crisp fold that will stay once it cools down. It gets to be a bit of a pain to remove all the pins when you get to the next step anyway.
Take that freshly ironed fold and fold it over again to meet the quilt top, so your binding's "raw" edge is inside, and your new fold is ON the quilt top inside that 1/4'' seam allowance you made room for on the sashes/edges of your quilt top. (second photo) I found that my Wonder Clips were a bit too short and kind of slipped a bit and caused gaps, so pins may work better here. Just make sure you get through all the layers.
Step 16: Mitering the Corners
When you get to the corners -- take a corner, and fold the fabric inside itself sort of like a triangle. Press it, then fold that edge upward to the quilt top. Then you can fold the other edge in to meet it. (first, second photo) The video shows, somewhat badly, the process for folding. Press and secure.
Then just keep going around til you have all the edges and corners set up. (Last photo)
Step 17: Sewing the Edge
You want to place your sewing line just on that doubled-over fold so you catch the quilt top and the binding together. A zigzag stitch would be fine here or a straight seam. (first picture) If you sew too far into the folded edge (in this case, to the left) you'll miss the quilted top so you really do want to be really close to the edge there.
Swap back to your general purpose foot, straight stitches, and proper tension!
I like to start in the middle of a side, and carefully work around. When I get to a corner, I do have to lift my foot sometimes to carefully ease over all that thickness of fabric, and I like to take a few extra stitches down the angle of the miter to sort of extra-secure that corner.
With your needle DOWN (in the fabric) you can lift your presser foot and carefully rotate the fabric and proceed down the next side. I don't like to break stitches at a corner, because that can make it weak. This does mean you need to plan carefully for how to work that much fabric through your machine.
Take your time and check often with your fingers to make sure you're biting into the quilt top. (second photo) If not... you might have to use a seam ripper and go back to the last good spot and try again until you have it fully bound up. (third photo)
Step 18: Cleanup
I went over both sides with a pair of scissors and removed all the thread ends. I did give it a nice ironing over just because. At this point you may find that you've missed a stitch, or your edges didn't catch, or you have a massive wrinkle somewhere that you absolutely MUST fix.
... That's when you cry a little, get a seam ripper, and carefully undo some stitches and try to re-stitch to fix it. Some things you just won't want to bother with. After all, this isn't really a display item, it's a working tool and your dog won't care if your seam is slightly wonky here, or there's an extra dimple in the fabric or something. Even if you'll know every time you look at the damn thing.
Step 19: Introduce Your Settle Mat!
Bring your dog to a quiet place, set the mat down and let them sniff around. If your dog already knows the settle command, give the command and see if they go to the mat. Give them a bit of time to think about it if they don't immediately go.
If they still don't seem to understand or if "settle" is new to them -- bring the dog to the mat and when they're on it, give the command "settle" (or whatever word you want to use) - click your clicker and immediately treat. Bring them off the mat with whatever release command you use (I use "Free") - give them a second, and then bring them back to the mat, command, click and treat.
Release them off the mat, and while they are off the mat (but very close) give the command. If they go to it, click and treat. Be like an elastic band - move closer or further as needed until you're comfortable that they understand the command and the purpose of the mat. When using the yellow blanket (the one she's worked with for two years), my dog will cross a room to get to it on the first command, but she's had a long time to get that burned in.
If, like me, you have more than one color/shape/size of settle mats, make sure you practice regularly with both/all of them so your dog knows and remembers what they are expected to do.
Step 20: Settle Mat in Action!
This is what y'all came for.
This video shows the very first time my dog has worked "settle" with this blanket. I didn't even take the photos with the blankets on the grass until AFTER this video was done, in order to avoid priming her for 'settle' -- I wanted to see how she would do with a clean slate... er, blanket?
As you can see she was interested and ready to work before I even gave her the first command. I put the blanket down, walked away to start the camera, and she was already there. Partway through I switched to hands only command (two hands down) without voice command to reinforce both verbal and physical commands. Later you can kind of see me give her the command for 'heel' against my leg before sending her back to the blanket. I also left in the very end of the video, where you can see her deciding to hop onto the blanket without command, and me having to order her back off. This happens ALL THE TIME with the yellow blanket. Quite often, as soon as I start to put the blanket down she crowds onto it without letting me fully unroll it.
Step 21: Footnotes & Design
Sewing needle choices
You can use a "standard" 70/11 needle with fairly good results. I used specially labeled quilting needles, and ended up breaking 3 of them before swapping back to 70/11 because that was what I had handy, and completed everything from the halfway point on with that. The biggest tip here is to be really careful with your sewing/quilting. Don't push your machine to go as fast as it can - go slow. Many times I was barely pressing the floor pedal. Especially during the quilting process - don't push and pull your fabric while the needle is down! Do it while the needle is up/traveling for the next stitch. You risk breaking your needle if you pull the fabric while the needle is down. This is easier when you're going at a slow pace.
Quilting Stitch Choices
The easiest, I think, for new quilters is just meandering loops. You can make them big, or small, it doesn't matter, as long as you quilt from the middle out. New quilters, using just one color thread, can just work in increasing spirals, making loops over the entire quilt top, sashes and all, as you go. If you leave large gaps that part will puff up more than the parts that are quilted down, so you do want to try and be even -- unless that's the look you're going for! (Like the pawprints, which I left unquilted, as well as the mini sashes on the middle row of blocks)
There's a ton of possible stitches you can do. If you look up on websites and youtube you can find quilting samplers, which will show you lots... and lots... and LOTS of options. I used quite a few in the building of my quilt, but then I'm nuts, and also used many thread color changes as well which made it much harder to work from the center outward.
Thread and fabric/block choices
The final design of the quilt is fairly complicated. I ended up using different color threads for my quilting, which took up more time and so forth. That's the fun thing about this - you can scale up or scale down.
You can use contrasting or matching threads for different effects. I did some swatching to play with thread choices, and made a sort of chart matching fabric letters (I mentioned that I did this earlier in the design process) with numbers assigned to thread colors. I had a little chart next to my sewing machine so I knew what color to switch to for each quilted section.
You can absolutely have a really gorgeous quilted top with just a few fabrics and one color thread. If you look at the yellow blanket (that you can see in the preview; also pictured here) there is just one color thread used throughout, on both top and bottom; the backing/binding fabric is the same as the darker fabric in the arrows. If you look closer you can see it's also a blown up version of the Sarah's Choice, just rearranged a bit. You can also absolutely do one color fabric on top, and one color on the bottom. Don't feel like you must use colored thread either -- I used "invisible" thread on one of the colors for my Sarah's Choice block.
It's much easier to use one thread because you don't need to stop to change thread colors. You do need to watch and make sure your lower bobbin thread doesn't run out - I needed to stop and refill the bobbin more than a few times through the process of making the quilt. The thread color doesn't matter too much during the building of the quilt - it's only really during the quilting step and binding the edge that you really see any thread at all. You can have thread the same color on top and bottom, or one color for the bottom only, or invisible thread, or whatever you want.
You can use different quilt blocks -- three or four bars instead of five, for example. Or do only large three/four/five bar blocks without sashes and make a sort of pinwheel. You can look up quilting blocks for inspiration. Try to find some in a ready-made size like nine or twelve inches - you can put them together to make a quilt without sashes, or with bigger sashes.
Regarding the Elmer's glue trick - it works. You can also use fusible web - there's options out there, like Steam a Seam, Wonder Web, etc. If you're new to quilting and feel a bit intimidated by choice, then just use the glue. It's cheap, easy to find, and works. It washes out later.
Why is there a whiteboard listed in the items and not mentioned in the steps?
It was primarily used "before" -- to help with figuring out the layout of blocks, fabric and color choices, etc. It's nice because you can make changes on the fly. I wrote down all my fabric letters (the white snowflakes was "A", the batik was "B", etc) on the whiteboard, then assigned fabric descriptions. Then I sketched out the general blocks I wanted, and began labeling the sections with fabric letters. If I decided to change a fabric, it was easy to erase and put in a new letter. Once I had everything "set" I transferred it to paper.
The same process happened with choosing thread colors and quilting designs. So it can be a really useful tool! I also used the marker to write on the white tape. Painter's tape would also probably work.
Participated in the